Monday, July 7, 2014

On Church

Today's Monday, which means many persons around the world spent at least a part of yesterday in a church somewhere. That is a beautiful thing.

And there are enough posts out there right now about why you should be in church on Sundays that I'm not going to add to that resounding echo, although let me say that I firmly agree with what most of these writers say: when you start to miss church for other events, you set your priorities and it's clear that church isn't one of them. That pains me, but it is what it is.

There is one very good reason to go to church on Sundays, however, and it is this: Jesus is there. Jesus went to the Temple rather frequently. Faithfully, you might even say. In addition to attending holy festivals and feasts with His family, we see Him in the Temple as early as age 12 simply for the teaching. For sitting around discussing the Scriptures. For being together with people who were doing the same. For the edification that comes from a holy community. Yes, Jesus went to church. What makes you think you don't need to?

But that was Sunday and today is Monday, and so there is another pressing issue on my mind, and that is this: once you leave the church, you're supposed to be the church. 

Are you being the church today?

Jesus went to the Temple, but He also brought the Temple to the people. He traveled around the region, seeing what people needed, meeting with them, talking Scripture to more than just the religious elite. He didn't care if you knew the Pentateuch; He was going to tell you what Moses said. It didn't matter to Him if you knew Isaiah was a prophet. Maybe you lived next door to an "Isaiah"; He was going to tell you what the prophet said anyway and invite you into His bigger story.

He walked around bringing healing. He cast out demons, restored sight, regenerated limbs, raised the dead, righted the lame. He forgave sins. He even spoke to the things you could not so easily see, the very broken hearts of people. Consider the woman at the well, just trying to escape her own story in the heat of the day. He brought her right back into it and spoke healing. Or a guy like Zacchaeus, trapped in his own corruption, unsure any more where the line even is. Jesus redrew the line for him, quietly, and the tax collector found a new measure of integrity.

He spent much of His time just affirming people. Telling them it was okay to be who they were, and telling them who He was making them to be. Peter is the prime example of this. A regular, run-of-the-mill fisherman who became a fisher of men. A guy who messed up over and over again. Jesus just keeps gently correcting him and telling him who he's going to be, who he's already becoming. 

And He invited people into holy moments. He created sacred spaces. He shared food with them, a nod to the festivals and feasts that were so common in Jewish society.

That's what we're called to do. We are called to be Jesus in this world, to be the place where people find Him in this world. We are called to teach the Word of God, to let people know what the Scriptures say. We are called to heal the infirmities all around us, the ones we can see and the ones that live below the surface. We are called to affirm people, to remind them who they are, who they are becoming. And we are called to create sacred spaces and invite people into them.

Most of us went to church yesterday. And that's important. Please, join us on Sundays.

But are you being the church today? Are you teaching, healing, affirming, and inviting people today? Because that's just as important. It's important not just to be in church, but to be the church and to be Jesus in this world. 

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